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Free mobile calls for Benefit Claimants

This is one news item that Landlords who accept housing benefit claimants should note and pass on to their tenants.  Calls to the DWP 0800 Benefit Claim lines from mobiles will now be free to claimants.

Far too often, the tenants do not follow up their benefit claims or call the council to respond to letters, as they can’t afford to do so due to the high call charges and long waiting/call time.

I only just found out this piece of news from Zacheus 2000, a Charitable Trust set up to support those in extreme poverty to negotiate the justice system. I applaud those who negotiated this scheme with the mobile phone operators-job well done. The full press release in the DWP archives. Please pass on the good news to your tenants.

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Free phone calls for most people using their mobiles to claim benefits and pensions are announced by the Department for Work and Pensions today. From 18 January 2010, six of the biggest mobile phone network companies will no longer charge their customers for calls to the Department’s 0800 Benefit Claim lines. Currently 12% of UK households use only mobile phones and do not have a land line.

Calls to claim benefits and state pension use 0800 numbers which are already free to customers using BT land lines and mobiles. But currently people calling 0800 numbers from other mobile  phone providers are charged  for these calls.

The Department has now reached agreement with O2, Orange, Tesco Mobile, T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone to end charges to their customers for mobile calls to around seventy of its 0800 numbers. These numbers are used by people making initial claims for benefit and pensions and to request emergency payments, such as crisis loans.

Together the six companies with whom the Department has now signed agreements cover over 90% of the mobile market in the UK.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Yvette Cooper, said:

“We don’t want people who lose their jobs or the poorest pensioners to be penalised when they need to claim benefits just because they call from a mobile phone. Lots of people need to use mobiles rather than landlines.

“That’s why we’ve been working hard to get this deal to make sure people don’t lose out.”

The DWP estimate that there are around 60 million phone calls to its 0800 numbers each year, and around 15% (9 million) are from mobile phones.

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